Links 2/18/16

You Can Taste the Need for Regulating Corporations When Parmesan Cheese Is Fake TruthOut (resilc) Only in America.

Global Warming Crushes Records. Again. Bloomberg (resilc)

The real value of taking your business offshore PhysOrg (Robert M)

Reporting of clinical trial results by top academic centers remains poor MedicalXpress (Robert M)

China?

China Rebalancing in Reverse: Nonperforming Loans Jump 51% from 2014 as Lending Hits Record High Michael Shedlock

China needs reform not another investment splurge Financial Times

Why the Chinese Yuan Will Lose 30% of its Value Charles Hugh Smith

Japan Shelves Plan to Let Pension Fund Directly Invest in Stocks Wall Street Journal

In search of a global-scale alignment of the progressive forces failed evolution

How to resolve a systemic sovereign debt crisis Vox EU. Makes a tame case for not relying much on bail-ins.

Draghi Faces New Dilemma With Pummeling of Eurozone Bank Stocks Wall Street Journal

Brexit?

EU summit: ‘Crunch time’ for Cameron’s reform hopes BBC

EU Diplomats Warn of Disagreements on U.K. Demands Ahead of Summit Wall Street Journal

Irish Housing Madness Returns……… Ed Moloney

Russian Central Bank shutting down banks that staged fake cyberattacks to rip off depositors Boing Boing. We don’t need such crude methods to take money from bank customers. In America. We have default interest rates of 29.99% and 34.99%.

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Tim Cook: U.S. government wants ‘something we consider too dangerous to create’ Washington Post

Apple’s Stance Highlights a More Confrontational Tech Industry New York Times. Only because it cost them business in China and Europe to be too cozy with the surveillance state.

Big Brother is Hiring: Employers Gain Access to Staff Health Info Through Big Data Companies Mediaite. Melody: “Where to file: Big Brother? Class Warfare? Maybe we need a new category for General Corporate Creepiness (it is a bottomless well, apparently.)”

Imperial Collapse Watch

The NSA’s SKYNET program may be killing thousands of innocent people ars technical (guurst) It is bad karma that they are calling the program SkyNet, with a straight face, on top of the bad karma its actions are creating.

Start Preparing for the Collapse of the Saudi Kingdom Defense One (resilc). Useful but it appears to overstate its case. For instance, I had thought it was pretty well understood that the succession posed a big risk to the viability of Saudi Arabia, in that the old king was well liked, while the son was not and was widely seen as thuggish. And Yemen is not a proxy war.

Supreme Court Trench Warfare

Scalia’s Hunting Trip Was a Gift From a “Friend” Who Had Business Before the Supreme Court Last Year Gawker. Just so you know, the overwhelming majority of cases (IIRC 98% or 99%) of cases appealed to the Supreme Court are not heard.

Why Wasn’t Antonin Scalia Given an Autopsy? Atlantic. Says that Scalia was not found with a pillow over his face.

Scalia’s Death and GOP’s Strict Obstructionists New York Magazine (resilc)

2016

Ted Cruz Overtakes Donald Trump in Republican Presidential Poll Wall Street Journal

Why Evangelicals Won’t Save Ted Cruz Vanity Fair (resilc)

SC deputy who “handled” a protester tells Trump that all the police departments in the area support him. youtube.com/watch?v=OYZPKY… @mtracey. Consistent with our guest post on Trump cultivating support of police.

Bernie Sanders’s Path To The Nomination FiveThirtyEight (martha r). Headlines like this must be driving Team Clinton nuts.

There’s Nothing “Transformative” About Bernie Sanders (He’s Just Not Hillary) Glen Ford. Explains why blacks are unlikely to break with Clinton.

I am a Latina and I am not her firewall modeofexpression (martha r)

In Nevada, young Latinos are ‘Bernie kids’ while their parents are ‘with Hillary’ Los Angeles Times (martha r)

Poll shows Democratic primary race tightening in Oklahoma News OK (martha r)

This Video Appears To Show Bernie Sanders Being Arrested at a 1963 Civil Rights Action in Chicago In These Times (Kevin C)

Key Georgia Democrat Switches From Clinton To Sanders MSN (resilc)

President Obama Sides with U.S. Corporate Tax Cheats Bill Black, New Economic Perspectives

Flint residents paid America’s highest water rates Detroit Free Press

Going Negative

Negative interest rates are a ‘gigantic fiscal failure’ Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph. A Tory and a monetarist calls for New Deal type spending.

Central banks: Negative thinking Financial Times. A very good overview. Google the headline.

New documents show rising caution at the Federal Reserve after global turmoil Washington Post

Negative interest rates are a ‘gigantic fiscal failure’ Telegraph (David L)

Fed must act on ‘economic anger’, says official Financial Times

Gasoline Is Trading as If U.S. Nearing Recession, Goldman Says Bloomberg (resilc)

The Decline Of The Coal Industry Is “Long-Term” And “Irreversible” OilPrice (resilc)

Class Warfare

Debt Slavery in Action – Texas Man Arrested for Not Paying Student Loan Debt Michael Krieger

Hedge Fund Billionaires Fund Super PAC Ad Against Bernie Sanders and Minimum Wage Hike Intercept

Notebook – Uber drivers’ tempers flare Financial Times

Antidote du jour: From @SamWoodsTB via @birds_central, this is a Blakiston’s Fish-Owls, the largest owl in the world. Wish the photo gave a better sense of scale:

Biggest owl links

And a bonus video from Chuck L:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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166 comments

  1. Pat

    So GMA informs me that Hillary Clinton has lied told Vogue that part of the problem is that she is not good promoting herself. She is great at supporting and making the case for others but just isn’t as good about self-promotion.

    Part of the reason I swore never to vote for her again two years into her first senate term was that I had rarely seen an elected official make it so blatantly clear that her only interest was in President Hillary Clinton and I do mean only. When you say you are bad at the thing you have worked the hardest at for almost two decades, perhaps the public should take you at your word and make you find something else to do. Unfortunately her supporters have blinders on about her endless self promotion so that is not going to happen soon.

    1. Pavel

      Lucy Steigerwald (from Antiwar.com) has an excellent piece reminding us how horrible Hillary Clinton’s record is:

      President Hillary Clinton Will Destroy America and Ruin Everything You Love

      Excerpts:

      Everyone was terrified of crime in the 1990s, even though it peaked in 1991 and then began a near-continuous decline for the next decade and a half. The thinkers at The Weekly Standard were sure that we were in a lawless age of sociopathic teen gangers. Three-strikes laws (which Hillary backed) were passed and mandatory minimums beefed up. Everybody was for it, and who were the Clintons to be any different? The 1994 crime bill, which Bill Clinton now claims to regret, included money for more cops, $10 billion to build more prisons and more options for the federal death penalty. Tough on crime was all the rage back then, and Bill road that gravy train to reelection.

      And

      While a senator, Clinton also introduced another feeble, pandering bill that failed. This one was about flag-burning and would have jailed someone convicted of desecrating that hallowed rectangle of cloth for up to a year. This absurdity is tempered by the fact that at least she did not support a Constitutional amendment on the issue. Nevertheless, protecting the flag should have given her some serious right-winger bona fides. As should her continued support of the death penalty – an issue with waning popularity. What’s a former Goldwater Girl to do to get people to see her as the Nixonian hard-ass she truly is at heart? Got to support the death penalty, but vaguely. Just for the real bad guys.

      And

      One thing Clinton is still happy about is her vote for the PATRIOT Act, which passed in a flurry of post-9/11 terror. She may have eventually staggered under the weight of official “Iraq war bad” obligations, but she is still a security hawk at home who merely pays occasional lip service to an idea of the necessary balance between security and privacy. Anyone at Wikileaks or named Edward Snowden helps terrorists and endangers American lives. Clinton herself is facing an FBI investigation over her private email server and the classified emails it occasionally contained and potentially endangered.

      Read the entire thing — I like Steigerwald’s style. She also reminds us how HRC teamed up with Odious Joe Lieberman on an anti-video-game violence bill. Remember that next time someone asks what Hillary’s achievements have been!

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      To me, Hillary’s statement is less about her than I think the promises she made about raising money and support for congressional and Senate races. With no money and media, Bernie has potentially reinvigorated the Democratic Party. Super delegates are basically PR types. If they aren’t popular, they are worthless to their employers.

      By now polls are being put into the field and meetings of “supporters” are being organized for Congressional races, I would bet no one is showing up beyond dead enders who would show up for Hitler if he had a “D” next to his name and Democratic incumbents might be recognizing that Hillary isn’t going to prevent a 2010 or 2014 election which means anyone could lose. If Hillary loses in Nevada and has a relatively poor showing in South Carolina, I bet the elected super delegates scatter to the wind and all the ones with PR jobs. After all, what good is a lobbyist who has connections with a two time loser?

      1. RP

        “what good is a lobbyist who has connections with a two time loser?”

        Agreed. The fretting about Superdelegates “throwing” the election to Hillary is overstated.

        Watch the rats scurry off the Titanic – er, Clinton campaign – towards the Good Ship Sanders once the pop vote and elected delegate count becomes undeniable.

    3. rusti

      In typical Hillary fashion I would say that she didn’t exactly lie in a narrow sense. The exact quote is:

      I’m perfectly happy saying, ‘Bob has this great idea, and we ought to support him.’ But ‘I have this great idea, and I want your support’—it was really difficult for me. And even today, I’m not the best at doing that for myself. I’m great at advocating for other people. I’m great at saying, ‘We need to solve these problems.’ But I’m not so good at really promoting myself. I just find it hard to do.

      1) Everyone else must find promoting Hillary hard to do, so in a way this actually makes her more relatable
      2) Being good at saying we need to solve problems doesn’t imply that one has the desire to solve them, it only requires proficiency in English
      3) She has been effective at advocating for other people’s interests, like owners of private prisons and Saudi benefactors of the Clinton Foundation

      1. vidimi

        true, she does excel at proclamations like “i really consider president and mrs mubarak to be friends of the family”.

    4. Christopher Fay

      You’re recommending that Hillary go back to school for retraining?

      You’re recommending that Hillary go back to the lab for reprogramming?

      I’m recommending re-education camp

    5. craazyboy

      I think Hill does ok at promoting herself. How many people get $250K for a dumb speech? Hill just has inferiority issues methinks. But when you live with a god, maybe that explains it.

      The SC campaign is sure to lift Hill’s spirits. Her strengths are so overwhelming in SC, it’s almost like you should arrest her for being unusually cruel and inhumane to her opposition. Hill will bask in Black Love – Bernie will feel the Bern. ( I didn’t mean to give the wrong mental image there. hahahaha)

      Hill will dust off that adorable southern accent she had last time she was in town back in 2008. It’ll be like re-visiting her humble roots. She just connects to the folks that way. Then the oratory will flow…”I support President Obama. I voted for President Obama in 2008. I am a Black Women! I have a Drone!”

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Hillary was supposed to bring young women to the polls and make it rain in Congressional and Senate races. Elite Democrats were supposed to look to Hillary for help, but instead, she’s desperate for a firewall and actively attacking potential Democratic voters. I wouldn’t be shocked if Sanders wins in Nevada to hear reports of a subsequent Democratic meeting where tempers flare.

    6. Brindle

      Corporate media gifts Clinton. CBS Evening News to lede Thursday’s broadcast with anchor Scott Pelley interviewing Hillary. Expect Pelley to mainly serve up softballs—he is similar to Brian Williams, although less intelligent.

      —Pelley’s Clinton interview will air at the top of Thursday’s Evening News. Charlie Rose will be on hand at the network’s broadcast center in New York to helm the rest of the newscast. Pelley also will lead the network’s primetime coverage on March 1 for Super Tuesday, when voters in a dozen states — including Colorado, Tennessee and Virginia — will head to the polls.—

      http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/scott-pelley-hillary-clinton-interview-867261

      1. Gio Bruno

        Describing Pelley as less intelligent that Brian Williams is an inside joke, I’m sure.

        Neither of them has a college degree.

        1. cripes

          @giobruno

          Considering the intelligence quotient of some characters that hold college degrees, including hillary, ted cruz or george bush, I wouldn’t be so quick to use certificates as a proxy for sound thinking.

          1. Gio Bruno

            I don’t. I know Williams touted his affiliation with Georgetown Univ. (never attended any classes) and Pelley will tell you about his affiliation with Texas Tech (never graduated).

            If they wouldn’t project a certain studiousness I wouldn’t have to explain that the current minimum of being educated is a college degree. (No assurance you’re smart, or even competent, but an indication that you’ve challenged yourself intellectually.) Journalism is about honesty, as well as the facts.

            And while I despise Hillary, Cruz, or GWB (legacy entry), I don’t confuse their political antics with their education level.

  2. Llewelyn Moss

    So the FBI wants Apple to create a hacked copy of IOS that removes security features so they can break the phone encryption to read the terraists texts and contacts. It can then inject that hacked IOS into an IPhone. But the FBI says it only wants the IOS copy to hack this one phone.

    Oh well then why didn’t ya just say so. We thought you would put that hacked IOS on the tool shelf to hack any phone you please. But only a sociopath would blatantly break US Laws and the Constitution like that. After all, the US Spy complex is not run by a bunch of sociopaths… Ohhhh wait…

    1. petal

      NPR(VPR to be exact) happened to be the station on in the car when I turned it on this morning, so I let it play. It was the Apple/FBI story. I got to my location and exited the car cussing a blue streak-at the pro-FBI speakers and Cy Vance saying Apple/anyone wanting privacy “are acting like teenagers” and how “a mature company would be in the interest of public safety/common good”. That’s what I was cussing about. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Did anyone else catch it?

      1. Llewelyn Moss

        I did catch PBS Newshour last night. They had a discussion with a guy from the EFF and some ex-DHS muckity muck.

        The DHS guy kept harping on the typical BS: “Patriotic duty; They are coming to get us; Support the troops” blah blah blah. He compared it to a cop jumping into your car and yelling “Follow that car!! There’s a bad guy driving it.”

        The EFF guy compared this to opening Pandora’s Box. Once the FBI wins a case to force Apple (thus any company) to modify its technology (because ‘Bad Guys’), it will use the case as precident for tons of future requests. The case law will be a rubber stamp. Not to mention this hacked IOS code will get out eventually and every hacker on the planet will have his own copy.

      2. Romancing the Loan

        I caught NPR this morning and it was appalling. The FBI spokesperson (who now works for CBS news unless I misheard that) repeatedly evaded the core question he was asked over and over – is Apple lying/wrong when they say that if they make a backdoor for you, anyone could find and use it? He started in about slippery slopes and shady lawyers and I just thought he sounded so brimful of shit it was amazing they had the gall to put him on the air.

        Guess it’s time to stop banking on my phone.

      3. Isolato

        Naturally, the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship.
        Gilbert: There is one difference. In a democracy, the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars.
        Göring: Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.

        Hermann Goering at the Nuremburg trials

    2. flora

      Apple is in need of some good pr for it’s iPhone. Reports this month on iPhone 6 being bricked if repaired by non-Apple techs, and the lesser problem of a ‘1970’ date bricking the phone, have hurt Apple’s brand. The non-Apple tech repair story was a real WTF for users.
      Tech companies have also discovered that
      govt demands aren’t the same as market share.

      1. Llewelyn Moss

        Yeah, I’ve never owned an Apple product but that would really p1ss me off if I did. I wonder if the ‘bricking’ is a feature and not a bug.

        1. vidimi

          it’s absolutely a feature. the software scans for whether the phone has been repaired by a non-apple technician and disables it.

          1. Jeff Langdon

            I’m sure there are financial reasons to make it difficult to impossible to hack your devices.

            But first of all, Apple is trying educate the people as to why it bricks the phone, and as inconvenient, even un-American it may seem to protect everyones’ privacy and security, it makes sense when you think about the fact that any third-party being able to “Fix” the phone by overriding a security feature meant to keep those third parties from hacking into and stealing their private info, or actually inserting malware seems pragmatic to me.

            Second, the continuous focus on Apple being the only bad actor conveniently ignores the dozens of other companies that are doing the same thing, just not as well. The fact that apple does it better (literally creating a security feature so secure that even Apple says it can’t override, according the company) is actually selling point to educated buyers.

            There will always be some people who misuse a feature meant to protect everyone, but I think the good out-ways the bad. Especially when the actual threat is minuscule compared to real threats, such as dying from the flue being 4 times more likely than dying from a scary brown skin bad guy terrorist.

            Some people are too easily propagandized through fear of the unknown, and are quite willing to give up all their rights, if they can be convinced that is going to make them safer. Sad, but true.

            1. Llewelyn Moss

              It would be easy enough for Apple to make this an option: “Brick my phone when IOS suspects tampering”.

              – I would opt-in if I was using the phone to do my banking or other accessing other seriously private data.
              – I would opt-out if all I do is text my friends will silly messages.

              Sure sounds like an Apple store revenue decision. And yes, all the tech companies equally culpable of putting revenue before customer rights and interest.

              1. Gio Bruno

                Apple has always had a proprietary view of their software and their devices. It’s part of how the sell their products. It’s also why many folks like their products; they work well, for them, most of the time. Don’t buy the product if you don’t like their approach to merchandising.

                I’m not an Apple user. My phone is an Android, but I’m well aware that (Google) Android is an NSA collaborator and that the phone is insecure. So I keep it in Airplane Mode most of the time and only put phone contact data on it. Yeah, it’s a “dumb” smart phone, with an excellent view screen for my old eyes.

                1. Optimader

                  Thats about it. Apples closed ecosystem i thing has been a strategy that has minimized “virus” attacks historically. As a professional it also resulted in my limited interest in their computer products due to the unavailability of software apps i use.
                  I do use an iphone with a minimum of installed applications, a decent tool fwiw – although i do still prefer physical keys fortyping

          2. nowhere

            That’s not exactly true. If you have replaced certain (registered) components and then try to update iOS, you will get an error.

            Here is an interesting comment that seems indicative of Apple’s sloppy software lately.

            In my opinion, Apple is not doing a dirty deed here, as much as it seems. They’re simply falling victim to the new paradigm of lazy, stupid, careless programmers shoving parts together and not checking all common use-cases as they used to do in the past. Notice how both instances fail in some generic, “unknown error” fashion? The developers probably weren’t instructed to make it not work, but their lazy, crap coding just left it hanging that way.

            We can only hope this gets fixed. It would be a ludicrously easy, secure fix – you’re down to just wiping the phone anyway (a clean phone is better than a brick), so just erase all security pairing data, wipe the phone, and pair with the new Touch ID chip. Or, if you want to actually make happy customers, just wipe the secured data, leaving other (non-secured) data in place if a fingerprint wasn’t used for unlocking, and pair the new Touch ID chip.

        2. weevish

          If some of the links from Hacker News are to be believed, it is a feature. Supposedly, recent iPhone variants have a supervisory facility called the Secure Enclave which is beyond the reach of the phone’s firmware. If the SE decides that a component such as the fingerprint reader looks dodgy, it assumes a hack is being attempted and takes, shall we say, countermeasures.

          Also claimed is that if the San Bernardino pair had been using such a phone rather than an old 5C (?), even Apple couldn’t do what the FBI is demanding.

          Having said all that, if I don my stylish metallic headgear, I wonder if this all isn’t a campaign saying “Hey all you terrorists! If you want your nefarious plans to be super secret, use a an iPhone!”. Meanwhile, behind the curtain, the feds snicker.

      2. Skippy

        The Apple thingy reminds me of Car manufactures changing OEM wiring harness colour codes multiple times in a year, attempting to limit non dealer repairs and secondary market audio – video installations.

    3. fresno dan

      Llewelyn Moss
      February 18, 2016 at 7:35 am

      When you can even broach this point of view in the National Review on this issue, it means real change is brewing. How many failures and how many lost wars before “Rah Rah – Go USA, the indispensable country” gets old, and results start to matter?

      http://www.nationalreview.com/article/431491/apples-tim-cook-right-resist-governments-demand

      Tim Cook is the CEO of Apple, and Uncle Stupid is leaning on his company just at the moment, demanding that the firm create some specialized iPhone code — call it “FBiOS” — that will allow it to crack the mobile phone used by one of the San Bernardino terrorists. Which is to say, with all of the power and money and other resources we put into national security, law enforcement, and counterterrorism, the Men in Black cannot defeat some yahoo’s iPhone PIN. This is what happens when you apply the Rough Road–sign model to fighting the war on terror. Yes, of course we’d like to have some prosecutions and convictions in the San Bernardino case, inasmuch as it is clear that the jihadists there did not act without some assistance. And, yes, there probably is some useful information to be had from that iPhone. But there is something deeply unseemly about a gigantic and gigantically powerful national-security apparatus’s being stymied by ordinary consumer electronics and then putting a gun to the head of Apple executives and demanding that they do Uncle Stupid’s job for him. You know what would be better than prosecuting those who helped the San Bernardino jihadists? Stopping them, i.e., for the Men in Black to do their goddamned jobs. An arranged marriage to a Pakistani woman who spent years doing . . . something . . . in Saudi Arabia? Those two murderous misfits had more red flags on them than Bernie Sanders’s front yard on May Day, and the best minds in American law enforcement and intelligence did precisely squat to stop their rampage.
      …..
      There’s an argument that we shouldn’t judge our counterterrorism efforts by their failures but by their successes — all the attacks that have been prevented that we don’t know about. There is a little something to that, but not very much. The Transportation Security Administration, for example, has perpetrated a great deal of thievery and contraband trafficking, but Der Gropenführer does not seem to have prevented a single act of terrorism in all its history. We spend hundreds of billions of dollars a year on intelligence, counterterrorism, and law enforcement. In some cases, we have given these guys a license to kill American citizens. With that kind of power and those kinds of resources, it is entirely appropriate that they be judged by their failures, of which San Bernardino is a spectacular example. From the IRS to the ATF to the DEA to Hillary Rodham Clinton’s super-secret toilet e-mail server, the federal government has shown, time and again, that it cannot be trusted with any combination of power and sensitive information. Its usual range of official motion traces an arc from indifference through incompetence to malice.
      …..
      Perhaps he is being polite, but the fact is that the FBI is the wrong hands. Its agents have leaked secret information in live investigations to their girlfriends, engaged in various and sundry episodes of extortion and blackmail, and used federal resources to check up on their favorite strippers. (Nobody got fired, of course. Nobody ever gets fired.) And of course, as in a great many federal offices, FBI supervisors spend a great deal of time watching pornography on their office computers and masturbating. That earned one supervisor a 35-day suspension. Is that how they do it in your office? ***

      ================================================
      The problem with wanting ever more “encrypted” or “secret” stuff to have access to, is that it needs ever more personnel and layers of bureaucracy to deal with it. There is a theory in economics called “Gresham’s law” that says that bad money drives out good. I would say there is something very much similar with regard to bureaucracies and police departments. And as the bureaucracy becomes every more unwieldy and stultified, one gets ever more perverse results.

      How is it no one was fired after 9/11? When one considers the hundreds, perhaps trillions, spent on intelligence, no one had any idea? Or no one knew how to distinguish real threats from all the self serving attention grabbing in the bureaucracy?
      When I was in the air force, we were constantly pressured to generate reports – and the higher the supposed threat, the better. Which is good for the career of our “superior” officer, but bad for the country (as I said, with bad driving out good, real patriots wouldn’t aggrandize themselves for promotion, but it happens all the time). And of course, constant wheedling for more personnel, even though the personnel there didn’t really have anything to do – but if you command more troops – – well, you have to be higher ranking.
      Back at the civilian world of NSA, it was even worse…

      *** I wish…

      1. Llewelyn Moss

        fresno dan,
        Hahaha. That was post was a thing of beauty.
        It maps exactly to my feelings about the National Stasi Agency and the rest of this out of control Corpro-Facist government. Of course, now you are on a watch list for posting it, and me for laughing in approval. And Trillions of taxpayer wealth continues to circle the drain on all this even as the country crumbles before our eyes from lack of money to stop the decay.

        1. JTMcPhee

          …I keep waiting for some luminous soul here to lay out, in a little succinct way, what “the country” is supposed to look like and do, relative of course to the cohort I most care about and am part of, the “ordinary people” who are by far the largest part of the populace. and the ones who create the demand and provide the labor that produces the wealth that the rich fokkers have gotten so very good at stealing.

          I can’t get up and go to work every work day any more, sadly like a very large number of other “people who happen to reside within the nominal borders of what used to be imagined as the Sovereign Nation of The United States of America,” but I still do neighborly stuff, do my best to conserve and recycle and avoid idiotic consumption. All I can see that most of us get for taking Navy showers (sprinkle to wet, lather, minimal rinse water) and line-drying our clothes and using rakes and brooms and dustpans, instead of using gasoline yard blowers to send our dog sh!t and lawn trash onto the public streets or our neighbors’ yards, what we get for all that is 15,000 nuclear warheads, policies that are built and operated to keep the drain-circling drawing in ever wider sweeps of the planet’s ever hotter water, making rich fokkers even richer and giving them more power over our lives and our offspring’s futures, apparently just so those rich fokkers can have ever more potent and perverse and insatiable demands for their personal and class pleasure attempt to be satisfied by ranks of minioins. And by curtailing our water use, to do nothing more than let the rich fokkers keep dumping millions of gallons of potable water into their Infinity Pools and “water features” and to “maintain” their plantings of monoculture lawns and ornamentals, from which their yard boys use those gasolline-powered 300-mph “yard blowers” to schuss the aforesaid dog sh!t and yard waste into the publicly built and maintained streets and storm sewers and onto the neighbors’ spaces…

          And so many of us have it in our heads that there is some underlying direction and order to all this that just needs some policy tweaks and the right Head of State to make it somehow work “better.” And often that “better” is just in terms of what will elevate their position on the assumed ladder of advancement, looking toward increased personal pleasure and a lifetime of impunity, followed by the final “Apres moi le deluge” middle finger to those left behind.

          Lots of analysis of the many pieces of a complex mechanism that can function in a wide variety of ways. Some awareness of the suicidal dysfunction inherent in many parts of the Rube Goldberg add-ons to “the system,” like FIRE and derivatives and the global mlitary-industrial-religious-political networkcentric battlespace… Not so much attention to what the outcomes of the tied-together (NOT, unfortunately, “shared,” in the eleemosynary sense) political economy ought to be.

          Seems to me that if a doctor is examining and assessing a patient the way I understand the best practice of medicine would require, there is a standard of “health” that any prescription from the diagnostic process ought to be intended to achieve (as much as possible, given the state of the patient’s health on presentation.) Something more than an aspirin, a bandaid, a pat on the shoulder, and counseling on how to go about killing oneself comfortably, with minimum inconvenience for the administration… What are the signs, symptoms and indicia of a “healthy political economy,” I wonder?

    4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      We the people are responsible for running a government of the people, for the people and by the people.

      That means constant managerial attention.

      And not handing the government an ‘all you can spending’ privilege.

      Unless the government has been captured.

      In that case, it’s even more critical the government can’t spend as much as it desires.

      1. timbers

        Church Lady:

        “Well well, we like our little False Flags, don’t we? Saddam had WMD, Assad sarin gassed his own troops just after our Red Line was declared, and Putin shot down that plane in Ukraine full of tingling engorged naughty homos.

        WELL ISN’T THAT SPECIAL!

    1. Higgs Boson

      Prediction: This war will escalate just in time for an “October Surprise”.

      Biggest scaremonger wins.

      1. Ivy

        October Surprise in the spirit of:

        They kept us safe

        They made the trains run on time

        Those aren’t the droid voters you’re looking for

    2. BondsOfSteel

      They might have already.

      In the past 2 days they let in 350 and 500 heavily armed fighters “transferred” from other rebel held areas of Syria. Since the Turks are shelling the YPG, I have to wonder if they aren’t taking a page from the Russian incursion of Ukraine and sending in a few regulars in the mix:

      https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/29075/

      1. Andrew Watts

        It’s possible. I’m honestly surprised the Afrin contingent of YPG/SDF was able to make gains so quickly in the face of the jihadi/rebel alliance. Both Afrin and the Kurdish zone in Aleppo have been in a varying state of siege the last few years by al-Nusra and it’s rebel auxiliaries.

        Turkey must be worried that the rebel opposition is on the verge of total collapse. Providing fire support from border artillery isn’t likely to stop it. Especially while Islamic State is encroaching on the the Mar’a line.

    3. Andrew Watts

      Will Turkey use this as pretext to invade Northern Syria soon?

      Maybe. Who knows. If Turkey/Saudi Arabia and whatever Gulf allies they can muster invade the Jarabulus corridor to fight Islamic State. It’d simply be a pretext to split the Shia Crescent. While denying the Syrian Kurds control of the border in what’s probably going to be Syrian Kurdistan.

  3. grayslady

    The date on “Links” shows December 18, 2016 instead of February 18, 2016. This may cause a problem for archiving.

  4. change agent

    Cheesy but which Presidential candidate will first resurrect Walter Mondale’s line with “Where’s the Parmesan?”

    1. jrs

      The wood pulp in cheese sounded questionable, just getting another kind of cheese in Parmesan, ok not truth in labeling, but nothing wrong with other cheeses either. Possibly more vegetarian friendly than real Parmesan from Italy which will be made from real rennet from animal stomachs, if one was a vegetarian or didn’t like that idea (i’m not sure it’s always Kosher etc. either).

  5. PlutoniumKun

    Re: Irish housing madness returns.

    Like most people in Ireland I’m quite puzzled by how the housing market is behaving.

    First off, there is no doubt that prices have risen very significantly. Not to the crazy levels of the Celtic Tiger years, but despite rapidly rising rents, some house prices in some areas are outstripping rent/price ratios in a way that is definitely bubble-like. However, its very uneven – over most of the country, the market is still very weak, and in some areas (such as a University town like Galway) if you had cash in hand a small house or an apartment for rent would give very good returns.

    As has been noted many times, the market for houses in Ireland is only vibrant if you look at large family homes in good areas (like that Clonskeagh house linked in the article). The official reason is lack of supply – there is some truth in this, but for there to be a lack of supply in a country emerging from a 20 year boom, you must have some demand. But I’m not sure its from the banks directly. I have been helping a friend search for a house for 5 years now – he is a hospital surgeon, with a secure post, earning a good six figure salary. In past years mortgage providers would have thrown cash at him. But they have been very strict – no nods and winks, no ‘we’ll give you an extra 100K ‘cos we know you can get more on bonuses, etc’ (much to his disappointment).

    There is a certain amount of ‘talking up’ the market. A lot of expensive houses you see on Irish property websites have in fact been there for years at the same price. I know of one lovely house that has been on and off the market for 4 years at least – each time at a slightly lower price. No bites at all.

    The other explanation is that it is cash buyers. Ireland has not attracted foreign buyers to a large extent, its not London or SF. US companies are busy buying up apartment blocks for rent, but thats quite a specific market (the apartment market for single unit buyers is very low). I suspect it comes from a lot of corrupt money, Irish people who made lots of cash in the bubble years, or perhaps bought an apartment in NY, and are not taking the money out of the Cayman Islands or selling their London/NY investments.

    It is possible that Irish banks do have some cash to splash around. The government is highly conflicted. On the one hand the wounds are raw enough that there is a genuine desire to make sure this time the banks don’t fuck it up (they’ve done it before). But Ireland is also massively in hock, especially through the Bad Bank, Nama – and for it to cash out there must be a rise in domestic property values. Quite simply, it needs a mini boom in order to balance the books and to take people out of negative equity.

    My feeling is that while some areas are showing signs of a bubble, it is not a general bank-driven bubble. Its a sign of a very malfunctioning market. First time buyers find it almost impossible to get mortgages. Wealthy people with cash are finding very good bargains. Some mugs in good jobs are maxing out their mortgages again as they believe the hype. A rapidly growing population in Dublin (many more immigrants again as the city economy is pretty hot right now) needs houses but they are not being built in the right places. Thousands of people are still stuck in negative equity (many more than will openly admit it).

    1. fresno dan

      I think you point out very well all the contradictions and how it doesn’t really make sense.
      At one point I would have been perplexed, but now I just accept that most of what I was taught about the “market” is just bull.

  6. Steve H.

    First, PhysOrg on Offshoring? .. ?!? I just,.. what?

    Then, Flint water prices: pay the most for the worst. Recall this M. Hudson quote:

    – Herman and I went to the White House and it was explained to me, that this was the whole idea of tar sands. The aim is to use so much water that it creates a drought in America. The drought was seen as doubling or quadrupling grain prices.

    And then recognize that created water shortages with monopoly control has been recognized for decades, as this film from 1984 attests:

    youtube.com/watch?v=2LGPVfHpKXU

    1. fresno dan

      Why the need to use grain to transmit rising prices?
      The price of water will be going up.
      As always, national security will demand that the squillionaires get discounted water to create jobs, water golf courses and/or polo ponies, or some such bullsh*t…

  7. Steve H.

    First, PhysOrg on Offshoring? .. ?!? I just,.. what?

    Then, Flint water prices: pay the most for the worst. Recall this M. Hudson quote:

    – Herman and I went to the White House and it was explained to me, that this was the whole idea of tar sands. The aim is to use so much water that it creates a drought in America. The drought was seen as doubling or quadrupling grain prices.

    And then recognize that created water shortages with monopoly control has been recognized for decades, as this film from 1984 attests:

    youtube.com/watch?v=2LGPVfHpKXU

    1. Llewelyn Moss

      The Democratic National Committee began the presidential election year almost $1 million in the hole — a bad situation that would have been even worse without the millions of dollars in fundraising that Clinton’s campaign sent its way. — from an MSN.com article

      Totally Unrelated Question: I wonder how much a super delegate is going for in 2016.

      1. RP

        One of the great disappointments in our system is not just that our “representatives” are thoroughly bought and paid for; what’s even more galling is how cheaply they sell themselves.

        ROI for Wall St banks funneling $$$ to pols is something like 750x by one estimate.

        In the current environment (or any environment, really) with returns like that, why invest in anything else?

    2. Brooklin Bridge

      And Clinton looses outright or is close in the same poll. I’m surprised this hasn’t been declared a top secret document. It’s being treated like one by the media.

      1. fresno dan

        If only it was stuck betwixt the cheeks of Kim Kardashian, it would get the media attention it deserves…

    3. TedWa

      I agree, he’s disappointed that Bernie isn’t knocking Obama and his and HRC’s foreign policies but what does he expect? Doing that now would tank his chances. We know how he stands, he’s against imperialism

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Trump may be a crypto-samurai, taking on Bush to commit his own Harakari.

        Like those in Sukhothai, who took in ronin samurai from the losing side of Hideyoshi vs. Tokugawa, I think Trump will have no problem with more samurai immigrants.

      2. Brooklin Bridge

        Ford doesn’t seem unaware of these polls; rather, he argues that black voters are.

        Ford makes a good point that Bernie is in a straight jacket when it comes to criticizing Obama (it’s just fact). But besides that argument, and perhaps more importantly, he points out that Bernie is not making clear that he has a better chance than Hillary in the general election (the media wont do it for him). Blacks, according to Ford, will stick with Hillary because right or wrong they do not see Sanders winning the general and they are more concerned (existentially) with anyone a Democrat, i.e. that protects them from a Republican (KKK) president, than with a Democrat that has less chance (in their minds) of winning but would be more accountable to their needs .

        It could hardly hurt Sanders to make corrections in his stump speeches, advertisements, etc., as well as in any debates, to make his general electibility advantage is as clear as possible and to use it to highlight how the media is terrified of just how practical his overall agenda is compared to sticking with imperial collapse.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Sanders has a better chance because Hillary is an abysmal candidate. She is polling behind the GOP clown show. Sanders doesn’t want to campaign negatively, and the argument for the Jewish, “socialist” seventy year old from Vermont to be more electable than the younger, internationally famed, trail blazing Senator and Secretary of State from Arkansas and New York is about Hillary’s negatives.

          1. RP

            I live in a rural part of a safe blue state. My area is red. I know people all over the political spectrum. The one thing everyone from right to left can agree on, for various reasons:

            “No chance I’m voting for her.”

            The only people I know who are Clinton supporters are 65+ who have been conditioned since birth to hear “socialism” and recoil. They’re usually upper-income too. Not enough of those to win, H.

            She’d be DOA in November, especially if she barely squeaks out the nomination.

            Vote Bernie or get used to the idea of “President Trump” or “President Cruz”.

  8. PlutoniumKun

    Re: Collapse of Saudi Arabia

    I’d agree it is overstated – as War Nerd has pointed out, Saudi Arabia has been dealing with a very unstable domestic situation for years – but for reasons that don’t need to be guessed the mainstream media has generally ignored it. They are highly experienced and expert at silencing domestic critics. And the most important weapon they have is that even a disgruntled middle-class will fear Libyan style collapse more than a continuing inept and corrupt leadership.

    But a collapse can’t be ruled out. A key factor I think is that the Saudi Royal Family have boltholes in Switzerland and the Riviera and everywhere else you can imagine. They simply won’t fight to keep power in the way that the Assads will, because they have an option and they frankly are cowards. So my guess is that a bad situation could spiral out of control with surprising speed if there are even rumour that a lot of private jets are leaving.

    I would not be optimistic about what would happen if SA does start to collapse. Even Iraq had pretty decent structures in place and could have survived the invasion if the US hadn’t been stupid enough to destroy them. The only properly functioning institution in SA is Aramco. The army is a joke and there is no real functioning civil service. Most other institutions are run by outside contractors who will run at the first sign of trouble.

    A wild card in all this is the location of the big oil reserves – they are out in the deepest desert. Difficult to defend, but easy to grab in the event of a collapse. Would there be a race between the US and Iran and others to see who would be in place to ‘protect them for the sake of the world economy’?

    I must admit though I’ve often wondered if I was a Texas oil baron with some friendly ears in Washington if I wouldn’t calculate that maybe a collapse in SA, with the consequent $200 a barrel oil, wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing strategically, now that the US is largely self-sufficient.

    1. MikeNY

      Just thinking out loud here, but I suspect that, if SA collapses, whatever it becomes will not be particularly friendly to the US.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Off the top of my head, the likely outcome of a SA collapse would be one of the following:

        1. Libyan style anarchy, with a fight between outsiders (mainly US and Iran) to be the ‘protector’ of the main oil reserves.

        2. The religious police (the largest, most organised domestic grouping) seize control. They won’t call themselves Isis or the Taliban, but they would be good friends.

        3. An alliance of ‘others’ – i.e. Shia, ‘foreign workers’, etc take control under a semi-secular autocrat (similar to Syria under the Assads, which was essentially an alliance of ‘non-sunni’ against the Sunni majority).

        4. The ‘quiet majority’ in the main urban areas keeps control. Before the Saudi’s took control, the main coastal cities of Arabia were ethnically and religiously mixed and tolerant. There may well be a hidden desire for this middle class and business class to put in place a fairly tolerant and business friendly regime such as you can see in countries like Tunisia. Its unlikely, but this would be the best outcome for most.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Of course, the world’s over one billion Muslims might demand action to protect the Hajj. It’s one of the Five Pillars.

          Christians and Jews are obsessed with Jerusalem after all these years.

          1. Jim Haygood

            You ain’t jokin’ …

            “It’s all right for [Pope Francis] to call on us to establish an immigration law that serves the national interest and assists people, but how that’s done, I think he probably is not sufficiently informed, and I would say that despite some of the biblical things, Nehemiah went back to Jerusalem and the Lord commanded him to build a wall.”

            — Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL)

            http://www3.blogs.rollcall.com/wgdb/jeff-sessions-pope-francis-immigration/

          2. RP

            This former Christian will never understand the reverence for some of the most desolate, miserable stretch of desert being so important to so many people.

            Bronze age myths of semitic herdsmen, people. Let’s evolve.

            1. PQS

              Agreed! As a former resident of an American desert (which has it’s own kind of beauty), I often thought that God must have been kidding to designate the Middle East as the promised land.

        2. fresno dan

          What is your view with regards to US oil frackers trying to limit US involvement so that the price of oil could recover (should SA collapse)?
          I would imagine that US ties to SA as well as the deeply embedded idea that SA oil is blood to the US industrial body, as well as limiting it to competitors, would make US frackers no factor what so ever, but I would be curious as to your thinking…

          1. PlutoniumKun

            To be honest, I’m very surprised the US hasn’t been more active in trying to stop the Saudi’s from flooding the world market. Its not just the influence of the oil industry in Washington – there are sound foreign policy strategic reasons for modestly high prices (say, $80-100 a barrel) as this keeps the US largely self sufficient. The US simply can’t maintain self sufficiency at current prices as most US oil costs too much to produce.

            There are, I think a number of possible reasons why the US hasn’t done more (after all, there is plenty of evidence that one of the prime reasons for the US invasion of Iraq was precisely to stop Saddam driving down oil prices too much – he was in the middle of a major expansion of production when the invasion happened). One is simply that the voices calling for cheap oil (auto industry, pols up for election soon, agriculture, etc) are stronger than the oil industry. The other is that relations with the Saudi royal family are so poisoned they haven’t been able to use their influence. Of course, in the past the US has frequently intervened directly or indirectly, but it may be that it’s been judged to be too risky to destabilise SA. Although why Obama has chosen to stand back and let the Saudi’s bomb Yemen is utterly beyond me. It makes no strategic sense.

            It may also be that the US oil industry has simply persuaded itself that its all temporary, and the Saudi’s will start shutting off supply as soon as they feel they have delivered a message. But if thats the case, then they may well be in for a hell of a shock.

            But I don’t doubt the cynicism of many in the industry to feel that if all else fails, maybe it is worth the risk to see SA collapse if it means their investments pay off. But the knock on consequences could really be dire for everyone.

      2. JohnnyGL

        I’d argue the current regime isn’t friendly to the US (as in its average citizens) with all their support for terrorism and Wahhabism. They are just friendly to the elites in DC, and defense contractors.

    2. Synapsid

      PlutoniumKun,

      “…$200 a barrel oil, wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing strategically, now that the US is largely self-sufficient.”

      I dunno about self-sufficient. Close to half the crude oil refined in the US is imported.

      If you look at the EIA figures for petroleum imports, though, the US can look much closer to self-sufficient, but that is because the EIA includes under petroleum, or oil, not only crude oil but also condensate, natural-gas liquids (bottled gas and such), refinery gain (refined products take up more volume than the crude does but there’s still the same amount of stuff; it’s an accounting artifact), biofuels…

      We also see, often, barrels of oil equivalent–BOE–used, and how much of that is actually crude can vary greatly. Stick to figures for crude, if you can winkle them out.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        You are quite right – the situation is more complex than I stated – not least because of refinery bottlenecks (just because you produce crude doesn’t mean you can refine it locally). I think its more correct to say that ‘in an emergency, the US could be self sufficient’, but it wouldn’t be easy or comfortable, and would mean major problems for the supply of some specific condensates.

        1. Synapsid

          PlutoniumKun,

          wouldn’t be easy or comfortable: OK, you win the understatement award for the day. (yellow smiley face goes here)

          Crude might be harder to obtain (by crude I mean 45 API or lower; condensates are higher–the higher the number the lighter the oil) than condensate if things get rough. It’s difficult to tell just how much condensate the US is producing but an argument can be made that more of the glut we keep hearing about is condensate than is generally understood. That has implications for the blending that produces the specific blends various refineries require.

  9. DakotabornKansan

    The NSA’s SKYNET program may be killing thousands of innocent people [Ars Technica UK]

    Killing people “based on metadata.”

    “The war on terror as seen by Washington and a complaisant US media is the ultimate money and power machine, requiring a huge military and intelligence commitment that is endless and not confined to any part of the world. As terror has no capital city or national identity the war against it cannot end through capture and surrender. As it is a secret war, it can be waged using unconventional methods, without regard for the deaths of civilians who are seen as “sheltering” the terrorists, guaranteeing that the blood of the innocent will produce new generations raised hating America. The bleeding will continue forever and everywhere as long as there are terrorists, justifying government intrusion into the lives of the citizens at home and huge and unsustainable budgets to wage the war worldwide. It is George Orwell’s dark vision of 1984 turned into reality. Tyranny and bankruptcy will be the war on terror’s legacy.” – Philip Giraldi

    Our war on terror is the business of barbarians in suits and white collars.

    “The greatest evil is not now done in those sordid “dens of crime” that Dickens loved to paint. It is not done even in concentration camps and labour camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voices. Hence, naturally enough, my symbol for Hell is something like the bureaucracy of a police state or the office of a thoroughly nasty business concern.” – C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

    1. RP

      I went to lunch with a consultant for a company I worked for 10 years ago who had worked for several Fortune 500 companies. He was early-60s at the time. Former Army Corps of Engineers, Vietnam.

      He told me flat-out:

      “The purpose of the war in Vietnam was to have a war in Vietnam.”

      History sure does rhyme.

  10. GlobalMisanthrope

    Glen Ford makes a similar mistake to that of Chris Hedges. They both want Sanders to pay attention to foreign policy and the machinations of Empire in the campaign. But why? Voters don’t understand the issues and most don’t care.

    Besides, why play into the Empire’s hands? If we want real change, we have to reject the security state’s premise that it warrants our rapt attention, which it uses to mesmerize us with complexity and terrorize us with fear-mongering.

    The only way to disempower the security state is to take away its money. That means demanding that money be spent on what we want for ourselves here at home. By largely ignoring foreign policy and national security on the trail, Sanders is responding to people’s real priorities instead of the manufactured ones on offer from the sophists.

    A President Sanders will have a clear mandate for an ambitious domestic agenda that will have to be paid for. Let the security state come to the people and make its case for why we should conduct a war in Yemen rather than fix the country’s water. And if Ford and Hedges are right and Sanders tries to carry on with Empire-business-as-usual, they’ll likely see the country torn apart by the violent unrest they seem to crave.

    I’ll take my chances on the possibility of a more peaceful course, thank you.

    1. Eureka Springs

      I think Glen says much of what you want but claim he didn’t say.

      Wrong. Clinton’s and Obama’s foreign policy is Sanders’ default policy. He wants to fund his domestic revitalization and the empire, too – a political and economic impossibility and a moral abyss. Thus, we see that Sanders is incapable of challenging his own party and president on domestic economic policy, as previously discussed, and has no substantive objections to Obama or Clinton on foreign policy.

        1. August West

          I think Bernie is taking a play from the Repubs playbook by hammering home his points over and over and not getting distracted. I have found myself getting frustrated at Bernie for not expanding on his arguments at times, on the other hand, I think his strategy of hammering the same points and staying on message is brilliant. I respect Chris Hedge’s philosophical and intellectual arguments, and yes filled with doom as of late, but most aren’t willing to take the time to digest what he writes. Let’s face it, most voters are busy just getting by and watching Dancing With The Stars and football. They need a simple message.

      1. Vatch

        It’s easy to add a 21st item to the list: Senator Sanders has repeatedly opposed the surveillance state. He voted against the Patriot Act and its reauthorization more than once. As recently as two days ago I provided the links to these Congressional votes:

        http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2016/02/links-21616.html#comment-2549711

        I think we should pay more attention to what Sanders, Clinton, and the members of the Republican menagerie have actually done, and less to the opinions of “pundits”.

    2. jsn

      Agreed!! As soon as you start talking Foreign Policy, Hillary gets to say “I’ve seen the secrete intel (and leaked it on my private server?) and know what we have to do, Bernie doesn’t get it because he can’t know what I know”

      In addition, even if you’re not fully on board with Paul Craig Roberts you have to admit it didn’t go well for Carter after he cut the CIA budget.

      You can’t tackle the heart of darkness directly, but Sanders and Webb were pretty good at the first debate about the realities for the average soldier. To attack the MIC laterally, go for the common soldier and that class of officers who usually get bumped at Colonel because they care more about their troops than their careers, the shifts will need to start within the MIC to not be killed by it.

      Maybe Roberts is wrong and maybe Carter was just unlucky, but going at the MIC frontally strikes me as a suicide mission and if that’s what is required for any meaningful “alternative”, as if a self funding campaign of small donations from normal people isn’t in itself a meaningful alternative, bloody revolution is our only choice. Maybe Ford and Hedges are right, but the facts are not yet in evidence.

    3. Jim Haygood

      ‘The only way to disempower the security state is to take away its money.’

      Which is why the Natsec state has built a firewall against democratic accountability:

      “When Snowden’s information [about a $52.6 billion black budget in FY 2013] was released, it was news not just to most Americans but also news to most members of Congress,” Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) said.

      “Most members of Congress can theoretically get access to this information, but they basically have to break windows and kick down doors, and then when they get the information they have to sign a pledge that they won’t reveal the information to the people they represent.”

      http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2015/02/02/black-budget-requests-remain-secret

      Kabuki-show democracy of the Depublicrat War Party — even after you pass it, you don’t find out what’s in it.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I don’t know about the quote.

        But I think that’s how they go after mobsters…Al Capone, for example…after his money or how he handled his money, tax-wise.

    4. fresno dan

      GlobalMisanthrope
      February 18, 2016 at 8:56 am

      I think your analysis is sound. And terrorism very raison detre is to gain attention – benign neglect is probably the best strategy.
      It seems clear enough that Bernie is far less enamored of the security/war state than any other major candidate.

    5. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      “…demanding that money be spent on what we want for ourselves here at home.”

      Bernie Sanders is being advised by Stephanie Kelton, an expert in MMT.

      Will there be broad increases in spending, both domestic and foreign, since with MMT, government can spend as much as it wants?

      That seems to be the way of least resistance way.

      On the other hand, if the budget is limited, then, we only have one choice – spending it here at home, on what we want, by taking it away from money currently spent abroad.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I am surprised it’s not being talked about more.

          That can be offered by Sanders to address all the questions about how we will pay for all the proposed programs (new or expanded).

  11. MikeNY

    AEP on the Fed:

    One can hardly claim that chronic use of QE to inflate asset prices and to stoke more credit is sound practice, or socially just.

    Ya think? Maybe that’s part of the ‘economic anger’ Neel Kashkari is wringing has hands over. Short-circuiting the political process can have nasty unintended consequences.

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      Did anyone else notice how much new bank credit the Chinese created in the last two months? USD $ 1 *trillion*. That’s trillion with a “T”. And two (2) months.

      MMT’ers, anyone? Should be no trouble, right? P= I/V +/- pi +(a/b)* 1.02238 or something

      And now they are setting up subsidiaries in the US, creating legal matters to be arbitrated with the Chinese HQ, with the intent to lose the case…so they can tell the PBOC “oh look we need to send $35M to the US to pay this court judgement”.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Why doesn’t he call for more money FOR THE PEOPLE to spend, instead of calling for more government spending?

    1. fresno dan

      MikeNY
      February 18, 2016 at 9:30 am

      Since he became internationally known, Zuckerberg has taken expensive steps to ensure his privacy.
      In 2013, it was announced that he had bought four houses surrounding his own Palo Alto mansion for a total of $30million after he discovered that a real estate developer was planning on buying one of the properties and and advertising it as being next to Zuckerberg’s house.

      =====================================
      Irony???
      OR
      Poetic justice????
      OR
      Paradox???

      How many pictures of his kid has the big Zuck posted on facebook?
      Does he actually have a facebook page?

  12. diptherio

    Somebody linked to this Matt Taibbi article late yesterday in relation to Neel Kashkari’s speech about cleaning up the financial sector. After reading it, I’m more convinced than ever that Cash-Carry is going to be a huge disappointment to anyone who is hoping he’ll accomplish anything useful. I’m calling it right now: he’s going to be another Mary Jo White.

    Here are some highlights from the article:

    http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/bailout-architect-runs-for-california-governor-world-laughs-20140124

    So Kashkari takes the job as bailout czar and starts hurling fistfuls of cash at the banks, in a fashion that turned out later to have been beyond haphazard. Critically, even though the Treasury promised only to give out TARP funds to institutions that were “healthy” and “viable,” Kashkari had no protocol in place to even decide whether a bailout recipient was solvent or not.

    They forked over billions in cash to failing institutions and then failed to enforce crucial provisions, like for instance measures put in place to prevent executives from bailout-out companies from giving themselves huge bonuses.

    […]

    He was so mortified by items like the Gawker bit that he literally disappeared into the woods like Ted Kaczynski and committed himself to a vengefully ascetic fitness regimen, apparently determined to return someday to society and have the last word.

    This is not a joke. The Washington Post actually tracked Kashkari down in the woods after the bailouts. They photographed the tiny shed he’d built for himself in Nevada County, California. They were shown the incredible list-of-things-to-do he’d written on his way out of Washington. I have to keep repeating this, but this isn’t a joke:

    1. buy shed
    2. chop wood
    3. lose twenty pounds
    4. help with Hank’s book

    […]

    Kashkari, in shape again, soon-re-entered the finance world, taking a high-profile job with the bond fund PIMCO, run by notorious Wall Street insider Bill Gross.

    […]

    While at PIMCO, Kashkari dipped a little toe in the lake of politics once again by penning an editorial for the Post (“No more me-first mentality on entitlements,” July, 2010) denouncing government aid programs. He argued – and again, this is no more a joke than the Rocky-IV-cabin-in-the-woods thing was – that even though we have an economy successfully founded on self-interest, accepting government benefits, by which one assumes he means things like Medicare, is the wrong kind of selfish:

    Our belief in free markets is founded on the idea that each individual acting in his or her self-interest will lead to a superior outcome for the whole. The financial crisis has reminded us that free markets are not perfect — but they do allocate capital better than any other system we know. A “me first” mentality usually makes markets more efficient.

    But this “me first” mentality can also lead to shortsighted political decision making . . .

    Kashkari’s solution? People who accept government benefits should take the long view and just say no:

    Cutting entitlement spending requires us to think beyond what is in our own immediate self-interest. But it also runs against our sense of fairness: We have, after all, paid for entitlements for earlier generations. Is it now fair to cut my benefits? No, it isn’t. But if we don’t focus on our collective good, all of us will suffer.

    Again, this came from a guy who handed out hundreds of billions of dollars of welfare to Wall Street companies, effectively subsidizing the massive compensation packages of Wall Street executives. This same person then went to work for a company that got a fat government contract to help other Wall Street investors unload their bonehead investments on the taxpayer.

    So no, I really don’t think we’ll be receiving any presents from Mr. Ca$h-curry this year…and you can take that to the bank.

    1. fresno dan

      diptherio
      February 18, 2016 at 9:57 am
      Wow, that could be my life story – just replace Kashkari with fresnodan

      This is not a joke. The Washington Post actually tracked fresnodan down in the woods after the bailouts (I did happen to leave Washington right after the bailouts, but I had nothing to do with them). They photographed the tiny shed he’d built for himself in Nevada County (I’m in Shasta county, California). They were shown the incredible list-of-things-to-do he’d written on his way out of Washington. I have to keep repeating this, but this isn’t a joke:

      1. buy shed
      2. chop wood
      3. lose twenty pounds (actually, lose 30 pounds, which I did)
      4. help with Hank’s book (I told him to fess up to being in the top five A holes in the world EVER, but he did not accept my edits….)

      Small world….

      1. diptherio

        I hope you don’t now write op-eds telling SNAP recipients they need to take one for the team, too. That was actually the part that really sealed it for me. Still blaming the poor people, like an @$$hole.

        My cynicism hasn’t let my down yet, my optimism has plenty of times…

  13. Jim Haygood

    ‘Compliance’ for legal cannabis has an agenda behind it:

    Hypur, a startup in Scottsdale, Arizona, has been quietly convincing banks that it is safe and profitable to work with cannabis businesses.

    The startup’s secret sauce is a software platform that audits a cannabis company in its entirety, shifting through documents and state licenses, financial statements, tax returns, property leases, [connecting] to the cannabis company’s point-of-sale system as well as the state’s seed-to-sale system.

    Once a Hypur customer gives a cannabis business an account, that business is encouraged to have its customers download Hypur’s mobile payment app [which] hosts a direct bank-to-bank electronic transaction.

    “Our goal is to eliminate cash,” [CEO Michael] Sinnwell says.

    No cannabis company can accept debit or credit cards because companies like Visa and Mastercard will not give the industry merchant accounts until federal law changes.

    http://www.inc.com/will-yakowicz/the-startup-quietly-convincing-banks-to-accept-cash-marijuana-industry.html

    Obnoxious. Excellent reason to carry on with the flexibility and lower prices of your friendly neighborhood unlicensed and noncompliant dealer, instead of a banksterized, federalized, fee-extracting panopticon.

    1. bob

      The underlying ZIRP and the fact that “dispensaries” are cash only, should be a god send to someone who still knows how to run a bank.

      A cash bank. Problems with getting a line of credit? Two armored cars stuffed full of cash sent to the nearest branch of a NA member and you don’t need credit.

      And they have to count it. All of it. Make it the smallest branch they have. More cash than they can get into the bank, and secure.

      I figure it would have to happen once before the banks made accommodations. And if it happens again, send 3 trucks, with an even bigger cash deposit.

      I saw a story about a smaller outfit in CO that was thinking along these lines.Not sure how they are making out.

    2. polecat

      I figure as circumstances with governing the country become more chaotic and absurd, the greater public will just resort to growing their own, without reprisal. Of course, my caveat is that it may take a few years before that becomes the norm!

  14. Jim Haygood

    From our Dystopia department — Ray Dalio’s Bridgewater hedge fund pioneers a real-time workplace panopticon:

    Data-mining company Palantir Technologies Inc., one of the most valuable private companies, helps Bridgewater analyze employees’ internal ratings.

    While at work, Bridgewater employees constantly rate each other on more than 60 attributes, including “willingness to touch the nerve,” “conceptual thinking” and “reliability.”

    The system feeds data into an ever-growing set of benchmarks, comparable to a stock index, that flag low scores and can eventually lead to a smaller bonus for an employee or even being let go.

    In an iPad app called “Dot Collector,” employees weigh in on the direction of conversations while they are happening. Employees also are quizzed about the outcome of meetings. Any meeting of at least three people is expected to hold at least one poll, according to people familiar with the matter.

    The average employee accumulates more than 2,000 “dots,” or individual ratings from other employees, a year, a person familiar with the matter says.

    Those ratings are distilled into a “Baseball Card” that shows every employee’s average rating for various attributes. The card also includes each employee’s overall “Believability Index,” which reflects how much weight the employee’s opinion has in debates and polls.

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/schism-at-the-top-of-worlds-largest-hedge-fund-1454695374

    Don’t Dot me, bro.

    1. Ulysses

      This is appalling! It looks as if high finance may soon become almost as Orwellian, in its insane micromanagement, as high school teaching!! :(

    2. MikeNY

      To paraphrase Frances McDormand’s “Marge” at the grisly end of “Fargo”:

      I just don’t understand it. All of this for a little bit of money.

    3. Vatch

      In case anyone needs reminding, Bentham’s proposed Panopticon was a design plan for prisons. Soon, we’ll all be prisoners (if it hasn’t already happened).

    4. fresno dan

      Jim Haygood
      February 18, 2016 at 10:58 am

      “In an iPad app called “Dot Collector,” employees weigh in on the direction of conversations while they are happening.”

      I note I didn’t have an opportunity to comment on your comment while you were commenting….
      but I would have commented, “too many ‘e’s”

    5. Foy

      That is scary. 60 different indicators/flags! The Stasi would have been proud and given an eye tooth for that system.

  15. Vatch

    Montreal Gazette: Sadly, Malthus Was Right. Now What?

    A portion of the article:

    . . . . .

    Homo sapiens’ appetite is gargantuan. As we strive to get at dwindling resources for ever more people, we dig deeper into the Earth, blow the tops of mountains, divert rivers, cut down forests and pave over swaths of land. We fill the land, water, and air with our pollution. We’re driving record numbers of species to extinction and decimating others with activities from chemical poisoning to hunting for bushmeat, or simply by taking over their habitat.

    . . . . .

    While the word “sustainable” has become popular, growing human numbers and activities are anything but. Increasing awareness of our impact has led to developments in renewable energy, recycling, earth-friendly farming and more. There have also been spectacular advances in family planning. But powerful —notably religious — opposition has kept governments and international bodies from actively promoting small families and prevented hundreds of millions of women who would plan their families from having access to modern methods.

    Those who deny that overpopulation is a problem say the poor don’t consume much. Yet the poor want nothing more than to consume more, as proved by India and China. Who can blame them? And a burgeoning number of desperately poor people does have a major impact: they cut down forests to grow food, drain rivers, deplete aquifers, and overfish and over-hunt in their local area. But make these points and you’ll be accused of blaming the poor for the problems of the rich.

    We seem bound to learn the hard way that there really is a limit to how many people the Earth can support.

    We wish it weren’t so, but it really is starting to look as if Malthus was right.

    Although Malthus was almost entirely correct, he was wrong about one thing: he opposed contraception. His younger contemporary Francis Place supplied that missing piece of the solution. Amazingly, people are still fighting against the truth that we need a smaller population.

      1. Vatch

        Yikes. Well, with 9 Scalia children, I guess the count of grandchildren could be even higher, but 29 is still outrageous. Let’s not forget the Duggars, either.

        1. polecat

          well… nature will see to it that humon populations will fall to what is sustainable, if humons fail to achieve it themselves !!

        2. Gio Bruno

          Update!!! Pope Francis has seemingly lifted the Catholic ban on contraceptives. . . for the women in proximity to the Zika virus. (See LATimes.com)

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Homo Sapiens’ appetite is gargantuan.

      For humans, life is an All You Can Consume buffet.

      You pay an entrance fee, you can consume until you drop dead.

      “That kind of business is bad for the soul.” – for those who believe one has a soul.

  16. backfat

    All this ‘bitter partisan battle’ propaganda is a sneaky diversion from the faithful service Scalia did for both state parties. Scalia could not have been the greasy crooked pig he was if he didn’t do his job. Scalia’s job was to dream up legal pretexts for breaching human rights law to preserve pre-modern doctrines grantingabsolute state power of life and death. That’s how CIA maintains impunity to run the country by secret diktat.

    To suck up to his CIA capos, Scalia always asserted that wrongful execution of the innocent is just fine. To justify this Cheka logic, Scalia fixated obsessively on his obsolete crap constitution. Except for Article VI.

    Under concerted international pressure, Article VI brought the US state in line with the cvilized world. Here’s what Scalia got paid to ignore: ICCPR Article 14(6), “When a person has by a final decision been convicted of a criminal offence and when subsequently his conviction has been reversed or he has been pardoned on the ground that a new or newly discovered fact shows conclusively that there has been a miscarriage of justice, the person who has suffered punishment as a result of such conviction shall be compensated according to law, unless it is proved that the non-disclosure of the unknown fact in time is wholly or partly attributable to him.”

    DoJ fights this. DoS fights this. Both parties fight tooth and nail to kill you with impunity. There’s nothing partisan about Scalia’s stance. So don’t gimme this GOP/Dem bullshit. Our adversary is the state.

  17. polecat

    the Antidote du Jour makes me pine for spring into summer…….where, in my humble yard, pollinators (of al kinds) run wild !!…. Tis a pity most people don’t stop to observe the minutiae of life around them…..

    to Yves & Chuck L, thank you

    1. bob

      Some of that footage looked like it was from “Hummingbirds- Jeweled Messengers”. I believe it aired on AU TV. Some amazing, high speed, high resolution film of hummingbirds.

      If you can find it, watch it. The narration was horrible, but the visual stuff was completely stunning. Ever see a hummingbird catch a mosquito?

      They get my vote for the most amazing animal, any day of the week. There simple existence seems to disprove thermodynamics.

      They can live over 10 years. The ruby throated hummingbird, common in the North East, make a yearly trip from the Yucatan to the NE, and back, finding the same feeders along the way.

      PS- They do tag them, but with very tiny tags. Closer to thread that has to be read with a microscope.

      There are also still a ton of questions about them that no one will probably ever be able to answer. How do you track something that weighs from 2 to 6 grams and travels thousands of miles a year?

      1. ewmayer

        Busy, busy, buzzy bees,
        Yellow, black and fuzzy bees.
        Sacks of pollen on your knees,
        Busy, buzzy bees!

        Having lived in NoCal since 1999 I agree that the Hummingbirds are amazing and delightful. What folks not living with them may not realize is that they do not spend most of their time flying – based on my observations they fly mainly to feed and in search of mates, but like other birds spend much or most of their time sitting on tree branches and twittering out their songs, which are in form of a distinct high-pitched twitter/chirping whose frequency spectrum is somewhat reminsicent of the chirrrupping of cicadas or the fiddling of crickets. And the tiny nests – the few I’ve seen appear to be made of spider silk intertwined fine vegetable-matter matting – amazing.

    2. Gio Bruno

      The fish owl is truly impressive in size (and weight). They stand two feet tall and the females (larger than males) weigh up to 10 pounds. (Other similar sized owls weigh half that much.)

  18. BondsOfSteel

    RE: Start Preparing for the Collapse of the Saudi Kingdom

    Things have not been going according to plan in Yemen and I don’t see it reported a lot in western media.

    Since the Saudis intervened, the Houthis have taken the southern border posts in Saudi Arabia and have been shelling Saudi cities:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Template:Yemeni_Civil_War_detailed_map
    http://www.sabanews.net/en/news419652.htm
    http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2016/02/12/449898/Yemen-Saudi-Arabia-Jizan-Hadi-Marib-Sanaa/
    https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/yemeni-forces-pound-saudi-positions-with-ballistic-missiles-in-jizan/

    The Saudis have also been relying heavily on mercenary forces… never a good sign:

    http://www.almanar.com.lb/english/adetails.php?eid=255561&cid=23&fromval=1
    http://www.globalresearch.ca/us-mercenaries-in-yemen-blackwater-group-abandons-taiz-war-front-in-west-yemen/5508342

  19. Peter Pan

    The ground based missile defense has to be the biggest MIC boondoggle of all time. The damned thing still can’t intercept a simple ICBM from North Korea. Of course, it’s totally worthless against more sophisticated ICBM’s coming from Russia & China. But the MIC executives must be happy with their supreme salaries, bonuses & golden parachutes.

    Missile Defense: Assessment of DOD’s Reports on Status of Efforts and Options for Improving Homeland Missile Defense

    http://www.gao.gov/assets/680/675263.pdf

  20. Optimader

    Re: fake parmesan
    Reason #2,345 not to use food like substances from cans.
    What the FDA should do is make it less of a hassle to import real cheese which might encourage domestic producers to step up their game.

    Cheese is the perfect product for the co-op model

  21. Vatch

    Scalia’s Hunting Trip Was a Gift From a “Friend” Who Had Business Before the Supreme Court Last Year

    It’s too late to prosecute Scalia for accepting a bribe, but it’s not too late to prosecute the owner of the ranch for bribing a Supreme Court justice. How much ya wanna bet that nobody in the Obama Justice Department will do anything about this?

    1. optimader

      I would like to hear Judy Woodruff ask HRC if she thinks it unseemly for a Supreme Court Justice to accept such a gift

  22. Roland

    You can’t trust any publicized reports on ABM effectiveness, whether pro or contra. Either way, it is likely to be deliberate misinformation.

  23. ekstase

    Fake parmesan cheese brought to mind the chef Lidia Bastianich, who explained on her Italian cooking show how, in her childhood, if a piece of food fell on the floor, they would pick it up and kiss it, because they could not afford to waste it. She also explained that people “respected the ingredients.” Real parmesan cheese is not snobbish. Food should not be about the cheapest drek that can be put on the market. People need to have pride in their workmanship, their foods, and in their environment. This has gone by the wayside in our society, and it kills people materially and spiritually.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Back in 1970 I had a professor, Italian of course, in Social Psychology, who wrote on the blackboard every session, “FOOD IS THE ONLY REALITY!”

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